The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Border 2020 Program is a bi-national collaborative effort whose mission is to protect human health and the environment in the U.S.-Mexico border region. The Border 2020 Program continues to target and focus on underserved communities that may be disproportionately impacted by environmental risks. The Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) is an international organization established for the purpose of preserving, protecting and enhancing the environment in the U.S.-Mexico border region. The BECC receives grant funds from the EPA to fund eligible U.S.-Mexico border projects which include the the Arizona/Sonora border region and California/Baja California border region. The BECC and the EPA have established a partnership wherein the BECC administers sub-awards (also referred to as Technical Assistance Agreements) with the grant funds it receives from the EPA. Consequently, the BECC oversees the receipt and review of proposals, coordinates project selection and issues and manages Technical Assistance Agreements including oversight for the implementation of projects and monitoring project performance.
The Tools to Help Arizona Border Communities Reclaim Resources project presented by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) was awarded a Technical Assistance Agreement to create an e-waste (electronics recycling) toolkit, accessible on ADEQ’s website (http://azdeq.gov/environ/waste/p2/ewastetoolkit/index.html), to simplify the resources and actions needed to run e-waste events. A list of qualified vendor contacts, marketing materials, educational resources and best practices will bring ease to the process and allow a busy community to implement an e-waste event.
Since 2009, ADEQ has held over 100 electronics (e-waste) collection events in approximately 50 cities throughout Arizona. Over two and a half million pounds of e-waste have been collected from over 19,000 vehicles. Illegal dumping of electronics has led to a state-wide effort to collect the e-waste by encouraging Arizona communities to recycle responsibly. With that said, it is necessary to educate citizens about the importance of using a certified e-waste recycler. It is also important to encourage e-waste recyclers to become certified in either R2 (http://www.sustainableelectronics.org/)or E-Stewards (http://e-stewards.org/) so as to ensure that they are following the guidelines for properly recycling electronics.
The components found in electronics break down as they deteriorate, releasing chemicals into the air, soil and water. The human body can then potentially absorb the chemicals by inhaling the polluted air, drinking contaminated water and even consuming crops and meat that have been tainted from the chemicals seeping into the soil. The consumption of such chemicals can create several health conditions including increased asthma, respiratory problems and potentially cancer. Public health and safety will be enhanced by preventing these chemicals from leaching into the soil.
The goal of this project is to empower Arizona communities to run their own e-waste collection events on an annual or quarterly basis along with promoting regional events that help smaller communities work together as one. For this project, several border communities in Arizona were contacted and the following communities volunteered to host an e-waste event: Nogales, San Luis, Sahuarita, Somerton, Sierra Vista and Bisbee.
The ADEQ Border 2020 project included both internal and external key players to accomplish our goals. The involvement of ADEQ’s Office of Border Environmental Protection (OBEP) helped with Spanish translation of the toolkit. ADEQ created the Toolkit to help set up e-waste events. ADEQ’s community liaisons helped make contact with prospective communities that may hold e-waste events. Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) volunteered to assist in raising R2 certification awareness through training webinars. Keep Arizona Beautiful assisted in helping educate communities on how to use the Toolkit as it rolled out. ADEQ secured a certified e-waste recycler, eGreen IT Solutions, to conduct collections pickups and proper electronics recycling. Other key stakeholders included the municipalities that partnered with ADEQ to host e-waste events. Their ability to market and conduct outreach on the project, as well as increase participation from the community, was important in making the Tools to Help Arizona Border Communities Reclaim Resources Project successful.
This toolkit is designed to help guide entities through the process of setting up an e-waste event in their community.
Information regarding the Tools to Help Arizona Border Communities Reclaim Resources Project is within the guidelines of the Border 2020 Program funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and administered by BECC.